Finnair Plus - OW Benefits and experience with AY
Jan 15, 12, 8:30 am
I have OWS status and recently travelled ZRH-HEL-IVL and return with AY. While I was happy with the fact that priority tags were issued for my bags, I was extremely annoyed to find there was no priority boarding even when there are two BP scanning agents and lines.
I can understand at ZRH when things are contracted out but at both HEL and IVL there were no priority boarding lines. Also, at IVL, despite the fact there are three check in desks, none were allocated for priority check in. After lounges, the one other reason I care about elite status is so I don't have to stand in lines for 30 minutes.
Is this standard practice for AY? It was my first experience and it came across as a hybrid of a legacy and an LCC: Newspapers on sale for 3€, no food service on the HEL-IVL-HEL legs, a horrendously cold tortellini with chicken on the return HEL-ZRH (This is when I realised what people mean when they groan about airplane food).
Jan 15, 12, 9:26 am
My experience is: On the non-schengen departures from HEL there is priority boarding that works well (at least if you are at the gate when boarding starts).
On the schengen departures it is hit and miss. Many times boarding starts late and everyone is already on their feet. Then there is not even an attempt to do prio boarding, but sometime there is a faint try: On my last flight they announced that they wanted to board J-class and back rows first (no mention of boarding for elites). As the lines already had built up, it was a little chaotic. But they actually checked seating on BP and tried to deny those in the front rows.
(I overheard this between CA and the guy next to me in the line)
- You are not in back rows, please wait!
- Well, yes but I am ruby
- Eh? Aha. OK.
Jan 15, 12, 10:41 am
Have not experienced the non-schengen area myself so I can't comment. But the schengen area seems a bit messy.
But you are right, the boarding does often start late. For my HEL-ZRH leg I was on AY863 for a 1630 departure. I was still in the lounge at 1625 with the board still showing a 1630 departure. There was no information about a delay and the board didn't show "Go to Gate" even. What was more curious is when I asked the lounge dragon if there was a delay (which there obviously was), she said no.
Boarding finally started at 1630 (still no delay information) and pushback was at 1655.
Jan 15, 12, 3:57 pm
Sadly, there is little consistency in the AY boarding process. The only consistent thing is that there is priority boarding for longhaul J and status members, however it doesn't mean that such passengers get to board the plane first, they just get their own queue to the dedicated GA. Thus, you may board at leisure but be prepared for a very long wait on the jetbridge.
There is no consistency in shorthaul boarding. Preboarding for infants, wheelchairs etc is offered if you request at the gate. Otherwise, they might board J and status passengers first, they might board by row numbers or they might just announce a general boarding call.
Boarding on shorthaul flights tends to start very late indeed. I feel it's safe to say that boarding never starts 35 min prior to departure time, as printed on the BP. If the plane is at a jetbridge, I would say 15-20 min before departure time is more likely. More for bus gates.
In my experience, flights often tend to take off late but they build in so much extra in the schedules that you will arrive more or less on time.
One thing I like about AA is that the boarding process is so consistent. I can't say they know the best way to board a plane, but at least I as a passenger know exactly when they will start and how they will do it. I believe AA does as they do partially to serve their elites better but mostly to minimize the time allocated to the boarding process. Probably the AY process doesn't take much longer in reality but here AY could, at no extra cost, improve their service to elites quite a bit.